Orlando family reunites with firefighter who saved 4-year-old from drowning

Fireman Todd Tinetti, other first responders honored

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando family reunited with the firefighter who saved their daughter from drowning in a swimming pool almost two weeks ago.

The last time Faisal Farooq saw Orlando firefighter Todd Tinetti, he was saving his daughter's life.

"It was totally frightening. I couldn't even look at her," Farooq said. 

Both Farooq and Tinetti were at the Lake Nona Aquatic Center at Laureate Park on Friday, June 1, enjoying the pool with their families. There is no lifeguard on duty at the private pool.

[Swimming pool safety: Tips that could save someone's life]

Farooq said he took his son to the bathroom for just a couple of minutes and his wife thought their 4-year-old daughter, Ayra, was with him.

But Farooq said she was still in the pool -- floating face down in the shallow end.

"No one realized she was in trouble," Farooq said.

Farooq said he was stunned and unable to help his daughter. That is when Tinetti jumped in. He said his training and parental instincts took over. 

"I didn't even say anything. I just grabbed her. I yelled for someone to call 911," Tinetti said.

Tinetti said Ayra was limp and her lips were blue. He immediately started performing CPR, continuing for about a minute. Tinetti said she then opened her eyes, and she was alert by the time Orlando Fire crews arrived on scene.

Ayra was taken to Nemours Children's Hospital. Dr. Gul Dadlani, a pediatric cardiologist, said Tinetti's quick actions saved her life.

"It's the absolute reason that she is here today with no brain injury," Dadlani said.

Farooq said he never imagined this could happen to his family. He said his children took swim lessons. He hopes parents will learn from his story.

"I request all parents to remain alert all the time, especially near pools," Farooq said. 

Farooq called Tinetti an angel. The firefighter said he is grateful to see how well Ayra is doing.

"There's no words that can explain it. It's an amazing feeling," Tinetti said.  

And even though she was a little shy, Ayra whispered to her father a few words she wanted to share with the people who saved her life.

"She wants to say thank you to everyone," her father said. 

Orlando Fire said swimming safety is a top priority, especially during the summer months. On average, there are more than 3,500 fatal drownings in the U.S. per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials said one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.

OFD said drowning is preventable and is urging parents to take precautions to keep children safe. Fire officials said parents should sign their children up for swim lessons, learn CPR, and make sure someone is watching children at all times while in a pool.

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